Zagat cooks up Tiny Cafe pop-up to make big impression with 2017 guide

The experiential campaign was part of an effort to emphasize to consumers that Zagat reviews are short and sweet.

Company: Zagat
Campaign: Zagat Tiny Cafe
Agency mix: Alison Brod Marketing + Communications and Deeplocal
Duration: October 27 - 29, 2016

Zagat opened a Tiny Cafe for three days in New York City where chefs crafted mini versions of signature dishes from some of the city’s best restaurants.

The experiential campaign was part of an effort to emphasize to consumers that Zagat reviews are short and sweet. The Tiny Cafe launch also coincided with the release of Zagat’s 2017 New York City Restaurants guide.

Visitors to the pop-up cafe received free dishes from Magnolia Bakery, Los Tacos No.1, Pizza Loves Emily, and Jacques Torres.

Zagat began planning for the campaign in early 2016 and in July completed a rebranding effort and launched a new mobile app.

Zagat enlisted innovation studio Deeplocal to develop an experiential activation that would bring attention and renewed relevancy to the Zagat brand.

For Zagat food experts, a goal in crafting restaurant reviews is to underscore only the details that matter. Along with this insight, came the idea to leverage the cultural trend of tiny food and create a Tiny Cafe.

"Our reviews are short and sweet -- generally 60 characters or less -- yet provide the full picture of a restaurant from food to decor and service," explained Ben Ezrick, head of marketing, content, and community at Zagat. "The idea of tiny food plays perfectly into this concept and drove home the message in the most visual way."

Zagat tapped Alison Brod Marketing + Communications to devise a media outreach strategy to announce Zagat’s 2017 New York City Restaurants results in conjunction with the Tiny Cafe on October 26.

The Zagat campaign team also developed a social media strategy focused on using live streams on Facebook and Periscope.

On October 27, the custom-designed Tiny Cafe was opened to the public at a pop-up location in New York’s Astor Place.

Target media was pitched under embargo prior to the Tiny Cafe launch. Coverage, including features on the guide and Tiny Cafe, ran in The New York Times, New York Observer, amNewYork, and several other publications on the morning of October 26. 

A variety of national and local lifestyle, food, and entertainment media were invited to shoot and cover the Tiny Cafe when it opened. Alison Brod also engaged local food, lifestyle, and fashion influencers, including Brunch Boys, FoodBabyNY, and EatingNYC, to post about the Tiny Cafe on their social channels. These influencers were not paid to post.

What is this?! Cookies for ants? Check out @zagat #ZagatTinyCafe all weekend long at Astor Place #Brunchboys

A photo posted by Brunch Boys-NYC Food Lifestyle (@brunchboys) on

"Once the activation was live, we monitored the #TinyCafe postings coming through from the event, liking all of the hashtagged photos on Instagram, and reposting some of our favorite images to generate even more excitement," said Ezrick.

Zagat also teamed with LinkNYC, a free Wi-Fi network infrastructure project in New York City, to feature teaser ads leading up to and during the cafe. The ads ran on LinkNYC display kiosks throughout Chelsea, SoHo, Astor Place, and the Lower East Side.

Interviews with participating chefs and an up-close, behind-the-scenes look at the Tiny Cafe were live-streamed on Zagat’s Facebook and Periscope channels.

"We were pleasantly surprised to see so many major media brands come out to capture live stream content of their own," added Ezrick.

A video post of the Tiny Cafe shared on BuzzFeed Food’s Facebook page received more than 7 million views and a similar post on Food Network's Facebook page received over 1 million views.

The Tiny Cafe campaign has generated a total of more than 300 million media impressions to date, measured across both social and traditional media.

Notable media coverage for the campaign included: The New York Times, BuzzFeed, Refinery29, The Verge, ABC’s The Chew, New York Observer, NBC New York, and amNewYork.

Upwards of 10,000 tiny food enthusiasts interacted with the brand on-site at the cafe.

In terms of social influencer post stats: @BrunchBoys garnered 9,142 likes; @FoodBabyNY’s received 46,900 views; @EatingNYC got 23,200 views; @NoLeftovers got 47,700 views; @foooodieee garnered 5,617 likes; and @StuffBenEats received 7,190 likes for  their posts about the café.

Additionally, Delish featured the Tiny Cafe on Facebook Live, which received 73,000 views; Business Insider’s Facebook Live post about it received over 30,000 views; and Country Living’s Facebook Live post received 36,000 views.

There was a 250% lift in cafe visits between October 27-29, attributed to consumers being exposed to the campaign on LinkNYC, compared to users who were not exposed to the ads. These results are based on a study conducted by LinkNYC and SessionM.

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